Kiel Picnic helps Optimists help youths
Mike Mathes photo
Kiel Optimist Club President Beth Hecker (right) helped a parent and child through the SafeAssured ID program recently.

The Kiel Optimist Club’s mission is simple—by providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids.

This motivated group has been busy recently, from providing children in the community with the SafeAssured ID program to talking about the risks and dangers of prescription drug abuse.

There are a multitude of projects for local Optimist members to be a part of, members who take time trying to make a fundamental difference in other peoples’ lives.

During the annual Ice Sculpting event in Kiel, the Optimist Club worked with local families to ID children in case of emergencies through the SafeAssured ID program.

Children have their fingerprints electronically scanned and personal information unique to each child is put onto a privacy-protected mini-CD which offers a single repository of important information.

Children are photographed and streaming video is also taken showing mannerisms and gait with a linked audio file providing the child’s voice inflection and accent.

Private information such as general physical descriptions, street address, date of birth, life-threatening medical conditions, and identifying scars or marks are recorded.

Families also receive a full-color photo data card and a Parents’ Guidebook with prevention tips, written in conjunction with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Ask any Optimist member and they will say that few messages are as powerful as the Optimist Creed.

Many members even say that simply hearing the creed recited just one time was enough to inspire them to join the club.

In their creed, Optimist members promise themselves:

n to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind;

n to talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet;

n to make all your friends feel that there is something in them;

n to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true;

n to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best;

n to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own;

n to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future;

n to wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile;

n to give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others;

n to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

The Kiel Optimist Club has put all the money they have raised back into the community over the past three-plus decades, especially into projects and programs to help the youths of the Kiel area. In order to donate that much money, of course, it first has to be raised. The Kiel Optimist Club has always been good at finding events or activities which generate a lot of funds. Its top event for more than the past decade has been cosponsoring the Kiel Picnic each August along with the Kiel Lions Club.

President Beth Hecker and Tom Lefeber of the Optimist Club explained that a committee of Optimists and Lions plan the picnic each year, meeting toward the end of every month except December. There are about eight different planning areas with one Optimist and one Lion serving in each area, such as food, beverages, advertising, raffle, etc.

The Optimists and Lions split the profits from the picnic, each reinvesting that money back into the community. Asked if the planning gets easier after having done it for so many years, Lefeber said it might if they did not try to keep making the picnic bigger and better each year. “We try to do more every year,” he said. “We turned the picnic into a four-day event,” referring to the Thursday Family Night which has become very popular.

The collaboration with the Lions does not end with the picnic, however, as those two groups also work together on the annual chicken and ham dinner which has been served at Millhome Supper Club

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